How to do multi-channel marketing for eCommerce (plus examples)

Customers are now more demanding than ever. They are smarter and have higher expectations. And as big brands like Apple, UnderArmour and Burberry deliver value and solve customer complaints via a multichannel approach, customers are getting used to it. This means that the bar has been raised for small e-commerce brands. 

Your business needs to rise up to the challenge and offer the increasingly demanding customer what they want via the platform they want. Essentially, a multichannel approach will help you retain more customers by improving brand recall. 

According to Nielsen, radio advertisements help consumers remember television advertisements. When the two channels are combined, brand recall for TV ads improves by 35 percent. 

Along the same lines, campaigns with touch points on TV and Facebook experienced a 12-point increase in brand recall compared to single-channel campaigns. 

Nowadays, with the addition of social commerce, multichannel marketing has become more important for e-commerce. This article will give you some tips and examples on creating a multichannel marketing campaign for a small or medium scale ecommerce brand.

What is multi-channel marketing

As the name implies, multi-channel marketing entails creating targeted marketing campaigns on two or more platforms where your customers are – to increase brand reach. Aside from the ability to reach more customers where they are, multichannel marketing allows you to create top-of-mind awareness with prospects and customers. 

Mike Burkland, CEO of Five9 says in a Forbes article, “Consumers’ power is on the rise and modern consumers expect to engage with a service or support center on their terms, using a variety of channels that include voice, web, chat, email, video and social media”.

Based on data from an SAP survey, 74% of businesses increased sales with a multi-channel strategy. In the same vein, 64% reported increased customer loyalty/customer acquisition and 57% reported better customer experience.    

The problem is that with multi-channel campaigns, you’ve got your work cut out for you. They require more time and resources plus the ability to use and interpret data as it is gathered. This is why despite the talks about the many benefits of multichannel marketing, many small businesses ignore it altogether. 

If a customer visits your website for the first time, odds are that they might leave without ever coming back. If they see your ad on Facebook three days later, and then receive an email from you the same day, the chances of re-engagement increases. This is what multi-channel marketing does. Let’s see some more benefits of multi-channel plus examples of brands that do it effectively.

Benefits of a multi-channel digital marketing strategy

1. It’s efficient. Retargeting customers on multiple platforms allows you to recapture sales that would have been lost. Using retargeting alongside outbound advertising tactics increases customer acquisition by up to 50%.

2. You reach customers on the platforms they love. For example, in-app advertising allows you to target customers via their favorite apps.

3. By being on multiple channels, you raise your brand’s notoriety and increase brand recall, leading to more sales.

Examples of multichannel ecommerce marketing

1. Staples

Staples sells office supplies and offers printing services. They use mobile apps, mobile and web user experience, email, and chatbots to engage customers on multiple platforms. The goal here is to create an integrated shopping (omni-channel) experience.  Based on previous interactions with their brand, they deliver customized product recommendations to customers via Facebook chat. Customers can also complete purchases directly via Facebook chat.

Their web and mobile site feature customer-oriented tools like the store locator, GPS directions, and banners that encourage customers to download the app. Since most of their customers open emails via mobile, they created an uncomplicated mobile experience, a slimmed down version of the desktop website. 

“We view mobile as an additional channel that lets us get that much closer to the customer and allows us to provide added value anytime and anywhere,” said Prat Vemana, director of mobile ecommerce acceleration at Staples, Framingham, MA.

2. Taika

Taika is a D2C coffee brand that produces keto-friendly, plant-based drinks infused with functional mushrooms and adaptogens. They use SMS both as a marketing channel and as a customer service solution. They also have a good web and mobile site user experience plus chatbots. On the website, there are accessibility adjustments for the visually impaired and people with cognitive disabilities. 

Customer complaints are usually attended to via email and SMS. Both email and SMS are also platforms used to create nurture, re-engagement and winback campaigns to customers and leads. This is a smart approach as based on a Yotpo research, 36% of shoppers will sign up for SMS in addition to emails if each channel has its own exclusive offers. 

3. Sephora.

Sephora is a multinational retailer of beauty and personal care products. They are a retail chain that have digitized much of their marketing processes in a beauty niche where customers “try to buy”. Sephora has a Facebook bot called the Sephora virtual assistant that uses AR filters to offer customers the chance to test and see how each Sephora product works. 

Sephora’s mobile app has a geolocation feature that recognizes when a customer enters a Sephora store, and serves up relevant information on current deals and recommended products. Both chat and mobile offer personalized recommendations and tips to customers. 

Sephora also wins back customers with personalized email marketing campaigns and offers. 

The ability to use personalization and persona driven marketing via multiple channels is probably why they are the number one beauty retailer in the world.

How to create your multichannel marketing strategy

1. Expand your ecommerce business to new marketplaces. 

A good starting point for multichannel marketing if you’re an ecommerce brand is multichannel distribution. Multichannel distribution simply means expanding your business (inventory analysis, operations and fulfillment) to other platforms. NovelTea tins, book tins manufacturer, for example, sell their products on Etsy, Amazon, their own website and through physical channels. 

Research from Sellbrite shows that sellers on 3+ channels see significantly higher revenue than single-channel sellers. You can list your products on Amazon, Google’s comparison shopping platform, eBay, Etsy, Shopify and Walmart. Social commerce with Facebook Marketplace, Instagram shopping also offers more options for brands to increase revenue. 

2. Figure out your target channels.

For many companies, problems arise when it comes to translating data into actionable customer insights. Hypatia research group did a study on “How customer analytics & insights enrich journey design processes”, and pointed out that businesses have to define customer engagement through the following lenses:

1. Descriptive – Who is the customer?

2. Diagnostic – Why are they engaging with your brand?

3. Predictive – What are they likely to want?

4. Prescriptive – How can your brand best engage with them?

5. Cognitive – Information sourced from numerous past experiences.

Essentially, you have to start with the customer. With a unified view of the customer, you will be able to figure out what platforms they are on and then reach them on these platforms. For example, if your product is CAD renders of landscapes, you might use visual media.

3. Streamline your approach for each channel.

Using multiple channels requires a solid strategy for each channel. For example, if a boutique real estate agency wanted to run a multi-marketing campaign targeting mobile users around their office location, they could leverage push notifications, email and in-app advertising. They could combine these with direct mail to add an offline flavor. 

However, different channels cater to different audiences. You wouldn’t expect to reach the same type of customers on Tiktok as you would on Twitter. This means that your multichannel marketing strategy has to make room for the differences in marketing channels.

There are some things to keep in mind here:

1. There is room to innovate. Think of ways to create interactive and personalized experiences for your audience in a way that makes them love your brand.

2. Prioritize engagement. Unlike outbound channels, inbound channels are not one-way communication platforms. Customers are talking and you need to listen to them, engaging them in an authentic way will earn you points and ultimately more sales.

3. Take care of the tactics first. As a small brand starting out, you don’t want to spread your staff and resources thin by being on four channels. Focus on one or two channels at first, learn the ropes, e.g., the best time to post, the type of content that gets the most engagement. And as your business grows, add more channels to the mix.

4. Implement marketing automation.

Let’s say a potential customer is researching a product through your blog, then signs up to learn more about how the product solves a specific problem. Your prospect has taken some action before – probably clicked on one of your ads, opened a product comparison blog post on your website, or checked out your company’s LinkedIn page – he/she is much more qualified than a random visitor to your website. 

But to know that, you need a system that scores leads and helps you prioritize them. With the right information, you can amplify marketing efforts with multichannel marketing activities such as trigger-based emails, sms, or retargeted ads.

A study by the Annuitas Group revealed that companies that use marketing automation to nurture prospects see a 451% increase in qualified leads. Those nurtured leads, in turn, make purchases 47% larger than non-nurtured prospects. User.com offers some advanced marketing automation tools for nurturing leads and streamlining your multi-channel ecommerce campaigns.

5. Measure your results.

As a small ecommerce brand, tracking your analytics might not be the most important thing on your to-do list. But you’ll need to figure out your high performing vs low performing platforms so you can optimize your efforts. The best way to measure the results from your multi-channel campaigns is by keeping tabs on revenue per channel. 

This is another area where a marketing automation tool like user.com can be invaluable, providing a centralized database for some of your channels. If you want to take this a couple steps further, you should figure out multi touch attribution models. What touch points are leading to the majority of sales? Does an email do the trick for the majority of your buyers? Or a popup with a discounted offer? You’ll want to figure this out so you can replicate your high-yield marketing efforts.

Multi-channel marketing vs omni-channel

Source: SEMRush

Both multi-channel marketing and omni-channel have similar elements, especially the fact that you need comprehensive data on your customer’s buying journey to implement them. But while multi-channel marketing focuses on using insights from data to create multi-platform campaigns, omni-channel does this but prioritizes unifying the experience on each of the different channels. 

For example, fashion brands like Mary Kay, are using “virtual try-ons” through AR tech to encourage customers to sample products directly from their phones. This is a good example of omni-channel marketing. Another example is how the Starbucks app helps users locate the nearest store, order ahead, earn rewards and use contactless payment. Going forward, with customers using multiple channels and devices, having multi-channel and omni-channel approaches is going to be sacrosanct for ecommerce brands.